Monday, July 1, 2019

Use Camp NaNoWriMo to Get Your Writing Routine Back in Shape

Happy first day of camp, everyone!

July is here, and that means the month-long writing adventure that is Camp NaNoWriMo kicks off today. For those who aren’t familiar, Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge that takes place in April and July, and spun out of the original National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which is held each November. The Camp NaNo events are more flexible—you can set a smaller overall word count goal, and work on any type of writing project you choose (as opposed to just novels).

My NaNo Experience

The first time I participated in NaNoWriMo was almost twelve years ago. In November of 2007, I took up the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month—and I actually did it. I wrote the draft of what would later become the first novel in my horror series. I didn’t return to NaNoWriMo again until a few years later, but have participated several times over the past decade, hitting my 50K goal in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. I’ve also done the Camp NaNo events over a dozen times, setting various word count goals, eight of which I hit.

I fell short of my goals several times during NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNo events, but I always come out of them with a good chunk of words, and something even more important—a tuned-up writing routine.

Getting Back to Basics

The simple beauty of the NaNo events is they force you into the habit of writing every day. More importantly, you get into the habit of writing freely, as there is not time to polish every phrase, sentence or paragraph when you are trying to hit an ambitious word count. You must send you inner editor on a vacation for the month. It’s very difficult to get that editor out the door, but once they are gone, the words will flow like never before.

I cannot recommend the NaNo events enough for anyone who has to write regularly as part of their job. We all get in a rut with our writing at times—we lose focus, we pick up bad habits, we get overwhelmed with projects and deadlines—the list goes on. The NaNo events give you a chance to hit the reset button, and focus on the basics:

  • Establish a daily writing routine. Make the time and write the words.
  • Write freely. Draft first, edit later.

So, go sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo at, and set whatever goal you want. You can also join a cabin and group up with other writers for moral support and lots of fun along the way! And the Camp NaNo events are a great way to dip your toe in the NaNo pool before diving in for the big event when November comes around.

I’ll be posting a few progress updates about my own 2019 Camp NaNo experience over the course of the month.

Happy writing!